Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Timeline: Bermuda

A chronology of key events

Circa 1503 - Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermudez discovers the islands.

Hamilton harbour, Bermuda
Hamilton Harbour, made a free port in 1956

1609 - Shipwrecked on his way to Virginia, English explorer Sir George Somers settles. In his honour Bermuda is renamed as the Somers Islands, although the name doesn't stick.

Early 1600s - African and American Indian slaves are brought to the islands. By 1617 they outnumber white settlers.

1684 - Bermuda becomes an English crown colony.

1834 - Slavery is abolished in Bermuda and the rest of the British Empire.

1941 - US establishes military bases on the islands.

1946 - Ban on private cars and motor vehicles lifted. Cars are restricted to one per family.

1957 - British army garrison, present since 1797, is withdrawn.

New constitution

1968 - New constitution introduced. British monarch is head of state, represented by a governor. Internal self-government is granted; the governor takes responsibility for external affairs, defence, internal security and the police.

1968 May - First general election under new constitution held amid growing racial and political tension. Pro-dependency United Bermuda Party (UBP) wins substantial victory. UBP returns to power in subsequent elections despite growing support for pro-independence Progressive Labour Party (PLP).

1973 - Tensions rise and culminate in the assassination of Governor Richard Sharples.

1977 - Riots and demonstrations for civil rights follow execution of Sharples' murderer. State of emergency is declared and British forces are sent to restore order.

1978 - Royal Commission investigates causes of racial violence, recommends early independence.

Racial discrimination banned

1981 - Human Rights Act introduced, prohibiting racial discrimination.

1995 June-September - US military bases closed.

Voters rejected independence in 1995 referendum
Independence from Britain is a recurring political theme

1995 August - Independence referendum: PLP encourages voters to boycott poll, saying independence issue should be resolved by general election. Majority vote against independence.

1998 - Jennifer Smith elected as first PLP premier.

2002 May - British Overseas Territories Act grants full British citizenship to Bermudians.

2003 September - Hurricane Fabian, worst storm in 50 years, sweeps across Bermuda with winds of up to 125 mph. Royal Navy task force heads out to offer assistance.

2004 December - Anti-Terrorism Act passed, aiming to stop terrorists from using offshore finance industry.

Premier announces formation of Bermuda Independence Commission; new body is to debate cutting ties with Britain.

2006 October - Ewart Brown becomes prime minister following a leadership challenge within the ruling Progressive Labour Party.

2007 December - The PLP wins a third straight term in office.

2008 November - Britain says it is to conduct a review of the finance industry in Bermuda and other overseas territories. The Bermudian premier says the planned investigation is an insult to the territory.

2009 June - Bermuda added to OECD's "white list" of countries complying with internationally agreed tax standards, after signing information exchange agreements with several countries.

2009 June - Premier Brown causes a stir by agreeing to take in four Chinese prisoners from the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.

2010 October - Premier Ewart Brown steps down; PLP elects Finance Minister Paula Cox to succeed him.

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Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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